Always being made to avoid close contact and even innocuous conversation with just about anyone, imagine my surprise when while shopping in Wal-Mart one day two separate women started conversations with me. There was nothing earth-shattering about these conversations in and of themselves – except that they happened to me. It was such an odd occurrence that I could not wait to tell my oldest son all about it.
As I came to the end of my recount, I said, “I think I’m giving off a different vibe.” He looked at me as only he can – with that slight, knowing smile and wisdom that should be beyond him living out loud in his sweet brown eyes. He then spoke the words that will be nestled in the corners of my mind until such a time as my clock winds down.
“Well, of course you are. Let me explain something to you. If I hold my bird in my hand for too long his plumage will be crushed. But, once I let him go, after a while, his feathers go back to the way they are meant to be. You were held for too long and your plumage was crushed. Now, Ma, you have been let go. You can go back to who you were meant to be.”
In my experience, it was the shame of being abused that kept me silent. My shame was crippling. No one that had ever known me would have believed such a thing could happen to me and certainly not for as long as it did. And I did not want them to know. I did not want them to ever know. But they had to. In order for me to recover, I had to speak past my shame.
Casting light in a dark place pushes the darkness out. It can’t exist anymore. Speaking about abuse pushes the shame out. It can’t exist anymore. When the secrets were spilled, the beating heart of shame was silenced and my feathers were smoothed. I became who I was meant to be. And I was prouder than a peacock.